TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL)- Thousands are rethinking their travel plans after Hurricane Dorian left catastrophic damage in the Bahamas and now threatens to flood several southeastern states.
News Channel 11 spoke with AAA Travel Agent Cecilia Campbell and Tri-Cities Airport Marketing Director Kristi Haulsee to find out what you need to know before booking trips during hurricane season.
“I just tell them to think about it long and hard because this time of year it’s dangerous,” said Campbell. “Of course hurricane season starts in June and ends in November so it’s hard to restrict people.”
Campbell recommends asking hotels what protections they offer before booking a room. She said many have insurance policies that allow customers to recoup the cost of their reservations if they cancel or if the hotel is forced to shut down due to severe weather.
Campbell said those planning to book a cruise should be prepared to accept a credit for cancellation or to endure an itinerary change if the ship sets sail.
“We suggest to all of our travelers that they purchase travel insurance,” she said.
Campbell said travelers forced to cancel a trip following a mandatory evacuation order are fully reimbursed.
“There are policies that let you cancel for any reason at any time but you don’t get all of your money back,” she said.
Campbell said travelers aren’t able to purchase travel insurance after a hurricane is named. “It’s kind of like buying car insurance after you’ve had a wreck. You need to have that insurance up front ahead of time to make sure you’re secure.”
Haulsee said some airlines penalize passengers for changes or cancellations resulting from weather disruptions. “Always read airline policies when booking your flight, sometimes that’s included in your email confirmation, sometimes you need to go to their website,” she said.
After choosing to travel, Haulsee said passengers should pack essentials like medications and chargers in their carry-on bags.
She also stressed building in buffer time. “Building in a day on the end or a day on the beginning of your travels or both and just expect delays and cancellations when there is a hurricane in the area that you’re traveling to.”